Leave it to Callie to ruin a perfectly good episode about Jesus. After a string of impressively strong outings, “Highs & Lows” plays like the equivalent of tossing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. Sure, The Fosters is building up to some cathartic and dramatic confrontations — multiple Adams Foster kids are secretly on drugs, Jude hates Callie, Mike is the last to know about everything again, Brandon’s world is set to implode again, there’s a robotics competition on the horizon — but until any of these story lines pay off, we’re left to muddle through a congested, half-baked episode.
I’m not mad about it, though. This happens once or twice a season, and The Fosters always ends up working out the kinks. But when a teenager’s brain surgery isn’t the dramatic crux of the hour, something’s off. Instead of giving Jesus his day in the sun, AS HE DESERVES, all of the dramatic tension is instead focused on the cliffhanger in which Callie possibly gets caught up in a giant police cover-up. To which I sincerely ask: WTF, guys?
Since no one else seems terribly concerned for the nail that gets lodged in Jesus’s brain, I shall once again lead the charge in giving Jesus 2 his due, and start this recap with the goings-on of everyone’s favorite wrestler turned robot master.
Tensions are high around the Adams Foster Kitchen Island of Acceptance and Pancakes these days, what with Stef and Lena deciding to sell their beautiful home (they even tell the kids, but I’m still holding out hope #NOTTHEHOUSE), Brandon’s empty seat (but possibly not for long after he digs into Cortney for her lack of parental discipline), and Mariana working overtime to show up the S.T.E.A.M. boys. So when Gabe stops showing up to perform his promised renovations, the mamas have no time for it. Jesus defends his birth father, and asks his moms for a little extra faith. He also lies to them about seeing Gabe at the house. Jesus is covering all of his bases, really.
Of course, he can only do so much. After calling Gabe and getting only excuses and empty promises out of the guy, Jesus decides to pick up the slack. He begins to work on the garage, only to get distracted by Mariana’s incessant robotics-team texts and ends up hitting himself in the head with his nail gun. It looks like it hurts, but the dutiful brother heads back to school to stop Mariana from going on a robot-induced rampage.
Jesus complains of a headache, but presses on. During a hectic family meeting — seriously, someone get that Mason kid under control, we are all annoyed — he looks worse and worse, until he finally collapses in the middle of the room.
The whole gang heads to the hospital, I guess because they care, but also because The Fosters needs a way to wrap up 10,000 story lines in an efficient manner. Sanitarily speaking, that hospital should really put a cap on the number of teens allowed in a waiting room.
The doc brings Stef and Lena the news: A nail is lodged in Jesus’s brain. It isn’t too serious, and can easily be removed. Sure, there’s a chance it could impair Jesus’s speech center, but he’ll most likely be fine. But also … they’re operating on his brain. Shouldn’t people be more worked up about this?
Fun side note, friends: This episode of The Fosters is directed by none other than Chandra Wilson, a.k.a Miranda Bailey from Grey’s Anatomy. My excitement is two-fold. First, I carry Miranda Bailey in my heart every day and second, it’s fitting for Chandra Wilson to direct an episode with hospital scenes. But let’s be real: If this were an episode of Grey’s, there would definitely be a slo-mo montage of Lena shaving Jesus’s head before he went into surgery, set to an Ed Sheeran song or something. It’s hospital drama 101.
This is not Grey’s Anatomy, and so Jesus comes out of the surgery pretty quickly, with what seems like no real consequences. Maybe side effects will be delayed. If so, I’m here for that. Also here for that: Emma. Yes, Jesus finally wore down Emma’s defenses, and she passes along a message through Mariana that she is, indeed, ready to try things out with him again. Ah, the upside to getting a nail shot into your brain!
If you can believe it, the whole nail saga has very little to do with Jesus. Wracked with guilt, Gabe finally turns up at the Adams Foster house and gets to work. Stef confronts him, and after a few angry back-and-forths, he admits that he’s struggling since getting off the list, sometimes having trouble just getting out of bed in the morning. He’s depressed, Stef deduces, but Gabe doesn’t think a man should feel that way. Add adult-male depression to the list of societal taboos The Fosters is willing to tackle. Brandon Quinn has been such an asset to this show since he popped up, and if this scene between him and Teri Polo is any indication of how a depression story line might work, more please.
Not so appetizing? Callie. She’s being a real Brandon this week. First, she sparks an awkward standoff when Mike and Brandon come home to find her bra tossed over the couch, an obvious clue that she and AJ are, as Mike later puts it, “getting intimate.” Everybody knows that everybody knows, if you know what I’m saying. Those shenanigans aren’t really the worst, but it’s just a precursor to how annoying Callie will be for the rest of the episode.
Later, Callie gets word that the Juvenile Justice Center won’t take on Kyle’s case. The missing forensics page noting that the killer had to be right-handed is compelling — Kyle is left-handed, after all — but not enough to reopen the case. Callie is pissed. So pissed, in fact, that even AJ, Greatest Teenage Boyfriend in Modern History, cannot calm her down. So, Angry Callie storms over to the car wash where Patrick, Kyle’s one-time alibi witness, works. She lets him know, very loudly, that she knows he made a deal with the cops to keep his arrest for child molestation under wraps in return for staying quiet about Kyle’s whereabouts on the day of the murder. After she’s thrown off the premises, we see Patrick make a mysterious phone call about the trouble Callie Adams Foster is drudging up to a mysterious person, who I can only assume is a cartoon mobster.
All of this is just par for the course when it comes to Callie. She fights injustice, even when it may put her in danger. What’s really problematic is the Jude situation. To get you up to speed: Jude is a pothead now, and yes, I would like to petition for the Anchor Beach drug dealer to become a series regular because that gal has a strong business acumen and doesn’t take shit from anyone.
When Callie discovers Jude’s burgeoning weed habit, she’s shocked and demands all of the details or she’s telling moms. Jude fills her in on Noah’s medical-marijuana card, and Callie threatens to tell if he doesn’t stop. Noah and his mom conveniently arrive at the hospital — his mom is a volunteer chaplain, see also: the aforementioned need to get some quick story resolution — and Callie warns them both to stop feeding edibles to her baby brother. Callie’s self-righteousness has never stunk of Brandon Adams Foster more than it does in this moment. I yelled, “How dare she?” at my screen, but it wasn’t really necessary: Jude basically says the same thing to his sister once Noah texts him about the run-in. Sure, letting your little brother get into drugs isn’t cool, but neither is becoming an embarrassing narc about it. Jude tells Callie to stay out of his life, and this time it looks like he means it.
In Other Family News:
- Mariana sneaks some of Jesus’s ADHD pills to stay focused for the robotics competition. She promises Emma she won’t do it again, but I know a Jessie Spano perfectionist-pill addiction when I see one.
- Hot Dad Mike doesn’t just have to deal with teens having sex in his house. He learns that B has been giving all of his money to Cortney, and he realizes that Stef and Lena once again kept him out of the loop after Cortney informs him that B slept with Callie, and Stef holds their son responsible for the whole situation. Hot Dad Mike has a lot to process.